Jewell begins reopening with summer housing and on-campus work

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In the midst of COVID-19, William Jewell College will begin to reopen this summer. Starting June 1, employees will be allowed to return to campus to work and some students will be housed on campus. The College is currently in Level B of their Operation Safe Campus and will likely remain in this level throughout summer. 

Employees will be asked to take their temperature every day for fourteen days prior to returning to campus in addition to engaging in other self-monitoring activities regarding COVID-19. They will also be asked to submit a pre-screening form to Human Resources before returning to campus. Those with symptoms will quarantine an additional 14 days and be directed to medical evaluation.

Facial coverings and masks will be required on campus. Students, faculty and staff will be required to wear facial coverings in Levels B, C and D when they are in public and unable to maintain six feet of social distance. The College is in the process of buying personal protective equipment, masks and other cleaning and prevention equipment for use by all employees. Open and shared workspaces must not have more than one employee per 100 square feet. Plexiglass will be installed in high traffic consumer areas. Cleaning of all high touch occupied areas will be mandatory. 

This summer, Jewell will host a total of 23 student residents on campus. Seventeen residents will live in Mathes Hall, one nursing accelerated-track (AT) student will live in the Coventry House and five visiting students from Park University will live in Senior House. Ernie Stufflebean, director of residence life, explained that these facilities are those best suited for Jewell’s summer COVID-19 plan. The summer housing session will last from May 31 to July 28.

Summer housing was restricted to students who are enrolled in at least one summer course, have an internship or practicum, are working under a summer research grant or who are from outside the greater Kansas City metro area with a job to pay for college. 

Stufflebean described the protective measures in place this summer to minimize COVID-19 exposure: 

Each resident must complete a COVID-19 Screening Form one week prior to arrival.

Each resident’s temperature will be taken prior to moving onto campus. Anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees will be referred to the College’s Nurse Practitioner for screening.

Each resident will live in a single room (no roommate). We dispensed with single room fees for this summer.

Each resident will be assigned to use a specific restroom with their own non-shared sink, toilet and shower. The minimal number of summer residents makes this possible.

Residence Life Staff will facilitate “no contact” check-in.

All summer residents must attend a mandatory hall meeting the evening of move-in day at which COVID-19 education and wellness guidelines will be shared. The meeting will occur within social distancing parameters outlined in the wellness [guidelines].

We’ve added a “COVID-19 Preparedness” section to the Campus Residents Resources Moodle course. Included are the wellness guidelines and other COVID-19 resources for residential students. This information will be updated as needed.

– Ernie Stufflebean, director of residence life.

Summer residents were also asked to bring the following items to campus as part of our COVID-19 preparedness:

  • Disposable or 5-7 washable face and nose masks/coverings
  • Thermometer
  • Alcohol-based disinfectant wipes
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Disposable gloves

In addition to these measures, Jewell’s nurse practitioner, Paula Brown, will be available in the Student Wellness Center in Mathes Hall. Brown may be contacted at the Student Health Center at (816) 415-5020 or via email at brownp@william.jewell.edu. The summer hours for the Student Health Center will be Monday through Friday from 8-10 a.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but if one has been exposed to or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, they should call ahead before visiting the Student Health Center. The Clay County Health Department will provide free COVID-19 testing for Jewell students. 

“I think we’ve assembled a good, comprehensive COVID-19 plan for summer housing, but it will require all summer residents’ support and cooperation,” said Stufflebean. 

Dr. Anne Dema, provost of the College, discussed the decisions regarding what programming to host on campus or virtually.

“All courses for summer are online, which is normally the case except for in the Nursing Program and some graduate [education] courses,” Dema said. “This summer those courses have also moved online due to the pandemic. That said, the Nursing Program will have students on campus for labs and simulation but they have plans to keep the group sizes to less than 10 and will implement social distancing, utilize PPE, and follow a rigorous cleaning regime. We are also hosting parts of the May AT orientation on campus Monday, [May 18] so they can get their iPads, ID’s, etc. and then they will have a virtual experience for the rest of orientation.”

The campus will be closed through May 31. However, exceptions to this closure include some employees and a few research programs which will be allowed on campus in May and through the summer. These programs include the Pillsbury Scholars program and National Science Foundation-funded research in biology – with Dr. Lila Rahn-Lee – and in physics – with Dr. Patrick Bunton.

In order to make decisions about which programming would be on campus, Dema was in consultation with appropriate department chairs about various programs. They would discuss the potential to maintain in-person programming while maintaining safe practices in line with guidelines published by Clay County. 

Many classes needed to remain online or in a virtual format – in most cases this was standard practice anyways. Some programming could not be moved online – including scientific research, nursing arts laboratories, nursing practice simulations, etc. In these cases, the appropriate chairs developed plans for safe on-campus conduct. Once plans were developed, Dema shared the requests and recommendations to President Elizabeth MacLeod-Walls, who gave final approval.

Dema described the process of planning for summer 2020 during the time of COVID-19. 

“Early on the [COVID-19] planning group developed parameters for summer activities on campus. There was agreement that we wanted to limit the number of external groups on campus and to privilege our students making progress towards their educational goals,” Dema said. “This also meant that all outside groups that often came to campus in the summer to use the College’s facilities for camps were canceled. The Athletic Department also canceled any plans for student-athletes to be on campus this summer and planned instead to use online tools to promote conditioning and connections among team members during the summer, just like they have been doing since spring break.”

“We also moved new student activities virtual, including Cardinal Days and Summer Fling. The County guidelines for limiting group sizes, and our desire to limit crowds on campus, prevents these activities from happening in person – Admission, Academic Advising, and Student Life have been developing plans to accomplish the goals associated with these traditional events through online or virtual experiences. We are excited to see how the adaptations work and are open minded that some of these changes may create new opportunities for us when working with new students who are getting ready to attend in the fall,” Dema continued.

“The guiding rationale is that we want to do all we can to have a safe campus this summer and to ensure we can re-open in the fall. Limiting outside groups and keeping the density of people low, consistent with Clay County guidelines, should help us mitigate the risk of exposure to active COVID-19 cases or having cases on campus this summer. It also gives us time in the next couple of months to ready the campus for more people and new social distancing practices that will need to be in place in fall when more people return,” Dema concluded. 

Regarding testing, an email announcement about Operation Safe Campus provided the College’s recommendations.

“Clay County is in possession of COVID-19 tests available to all Clay County residents, without cost, and regardless of whether or not individuals being tested are symptomatic. You are encouraged to visit the Shoal Creek testing center if you wish to be tested and certainly if you believe you have been infected with or exposed to COVID-19. The College will not require employees to be tested in June or July, but will require testing as we return in August. Much more information about testing will be forthcoming later this summer,” the email stated.

Catherine Dema

Catherine Dema is the page editor for Features & Investigations on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics.

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